How are you celebrating National School Counseling Week? We are celebrating by hearing from some of the influential school counselors we partner with through programs like Kids on the Block, MOVE2STAND, Youth Overcoming Drug Abuse, Services for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and our Student Assistance Program! Here are some words from a school counselor at Woodland Middle School.
Woodland Middle School is fortunate to be able to offer the STARS program to its students and to have Erin Schroeder as its STARS Counselor. While there are many ways that Woodland benefits from the STARS program and Erin, perhaps the one I value the most is the sense of community that Erin helps to promote.
As the STARS Counselor, Erin leads our STARS Student Leadership Team (STARS Team), a group of students that are involved in creating programs and activities focusing on creating a safe school environment, participate in community service and enrichment projects and provide positive role models for their peer students. In my two years at Woodland (including a year as an intern and now as a school counselor), I have watched Erin empowered the members of the STARS Team to create and organize Red Ribbon Week. Members suggested and voted on dress-up themes for the week, promoted these themes through school announcements, newsletters and flyers, and decked themselves out in some fabulous costumes during Red Ribbon Week. Both the facility and the other students took notice and enjoyed participating in the Red Ribbon Week activities. But to the members of the STARS Team, Red Ribbon Week is about more than a few days of dressing up. The member initiated a fundraising component. On the Friday of Red Ribbon Week, the STARS Team hosted a successful bake sale during lunch and contributed the funds to local agencies that help children with addictions.
Another example of Erin promoting school connectedness is our new program aimed at helping students who transfer to Woodland. Similar to other schools in the area, Woodland receives a lot of transfer students throughout the school year. As all of us are aware, middle school can be challenging for any student, but it is especially challenging for a new transfer student. One day this fall, Erin and I were discussing how difficult this transition can be and decided to create a “New Student Welcoming Group” to ensure each new student has a “designated friend” to sit with at lunch and help navigate the new environment.
Erin introduced the idea to her STARS Group. Many of the members agreed to participate in the New Student Welcoming Group and filled out surveys about themselves. I organized the survey information and created a data base of students by gender, grade, classes and interests. Now when a new transfer student arrives as Woodland, my co-counselor, Kim Ezell, Erin and I can easily and quickly identify current students, with similar interests, who will help welcome the new transfer student and be their “designated friend”.
I personally find that partnering with Erin and the STARS Group has helped me better serve our students and our Woodland Community. Erin is always available for collaboration and consultation. This is extremely valuable since her training in social work provides a different point of view of students than my counseling training.
Woodland would not be the same without Erin or STARS.
Did you read our last guest blog post for National School Counseling Week?